Sunday, October 19, 2008

the first week of school and other such stuff

Salut tout le monde!
Sorry I haven't written in awhile but things have been pretty busy. Spent a weekend in Geneve with my high school homestay family the Micallef's. Met up with Laure after she was done with work then we headed to her apartment and ate dinner and talked about politics, and other things with her and her friend Lauralee. Most young people don't seem to like Sarkozy, my roommate was angry because her housing aid for this year is very low, she's only getting like 85 euro a month. But I think the housing aid is great, no matter how much money I end up getting. The next day (sunday) we took the tram to the border of Switzerland and France and met up with Laure's dad, Serge and he took us to their country home in Nangy France. They have a very nice home there and we ate a delicious lunch of raclette with Laure's grandmother and uncle. French sunday lunches are quite the experience, first you have an apperitive, champagne was ours, then you move to the table for the entree which for us was the raclette. Raclette is a little like fondue but you have this grill thing that you put little plates with a piece of cheese on. The cheese then melts and you eat it with potatoes and deli meats. It's delish! After that was a little break than a pinapple snack, then coffee and then finally a cake desert. The whole lunch was around 3 hours. Laure's mother, Cathy, is a great cook though and it was a great day! They're a really nice family and were impressed with my language skills (luckily they have improved in four years). I hope to visit again soon!

Monday I started classes and so far it's been alright. I'm alone in a class with 10 other chinese students so it's kinda weird. They all speak chinese to each other and their french is not that great. Many of them have only been learning it for a year. I think it will get better soon though and my teachers have told me they can give me harder work. The chinese students are nice for the most part but it's hard to communicate with them because they're french is not that great and neither is their english. Hopefully they're fast learners and we'll be chatting more casually soon.

Yesterday my finnish friend, Iida, and my italien friend Erica, along with her parents, drove over to Voiron to check out the Chartreuse liquer cellers. They're the longest liquer cellers in the world and the Chartreuse was first made by a monks and are still doing it. Our couchsurfing friend told us about the cellars and it was a really cool tour. I even bought some of the digestive elixer, which you eat with a sugar cube :). This week should be pretty good, there's an international student party on Wednesday, so that should be fun, get to meet some more friends! And next weekend no plans yet but maybe a trip to Grenoble or somewhere else close by. I'll keep you all updated, but until then bonne journee et a tout a l'heure!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

More exciting adventures from France!

Salut tout le monde!
So lots has happened since I last wrote about Lyon. Some friends and I took a day trip to Albertville last week and it was a perfect day in a nice little mountain town. Albertville was home to the 1992 winter Olympic games so we checked out the Olympic museum which was alright but prolly the best part of it was all the costumes they had from the opening ceremonies, crazy stuff. Then we hiked up to the little medieval village of Conflans where there were gorgeous views of the city and cute fountains and shops.

Last week I also got together with a girl from Cyprus named Didem and ate dinner at her little apartment just outside the town center. Her mom was staying with her for a little while so she made us turkish coffee and then read our fortunes with the coffee grounds, it was pretty cool. Her and her roommate are also studying at ESC and taking a int'l business program in English. It's so great to meet people from so many different cultures and backgrounds, who really have pride in their home country. It's seems that even in the US when you get to know someone from another country they mostly see themselves as an American, and I think with that mentality it's more comman to assimilate to an American lifestyle. But Europeans are all so different with customs and cultures. My french teacher was suprised when classmates where sharing info about their host country, and I knew what dishes and customs they were talking about, she asked if I've traveled a lot and how I know so much about these other places, and I think it's because Americans don't have a specific habits or a specific culture that we just latch on to everyone elses.

Anyways on Thursday I left for Bordeaux to visit a WSU friend Emily who's studying for a year as well. She's living with a host family so it was nice to have some home cooked food and to be able to try some Bordeaux specialities. Unfortunatley the family all had colds and then Emily got food poisoning Friday night so not the best weekend, but I had fun anyways. Bordeaux is full of beautiful cathedrals and is also right next to the Gorgonne river. Place de la Bourse, where the government buildings are, is gorgeous and looks right out onto the river. We checked out the museums on Sunday and the Musee d'Aquitaine (Aquitaine is the region Bordeaux is in) was really cool, with ancient arrowheads to cool medieval stained glass. We also got to meet up with former Erasmus students that went to WSU and it was interesting to hear their take on their study abroad experiance. It's nice to have someone to talk to that knows what you're going through and is a coug :). The family also appreciated my political views so offered to let me stay an extra night.

The next couple of days look busy, I'm prolly going to head for a day trip to Annecy tomorrow, then there's an int'l student meeting thingy in Lyon on Thursday and then this weekend I'm meeting up with my former host family (from my high school trip to France) in Geneva. I start my French program on Monday so I'm sure I'll have lots to share next week, if I find time to write. Bonne journee et a tout a l'heure!